Speedwell – Veronica persica ￼
Description: The Latin name of this pretty little blue flowered plant comes from a story of a woman, later canonized as St. Veronica who is said to have wiped the blood from the face of Jesus on his journey to Calvery. “Ever afterwards,” writes Julia W. Henshaw in Mountain Wildflowers of North America, “her kerchief bore the vera iconica, ‘the true likeness,’ of his sacred features.” “Vera iconica” is actually a mixture of Greek and Latin terms.
There are many varieties, also known as Gypsy weed and birdseye speedwell – see the song below.
- Speedwell is plentiful now in spring
- annual, sprawling plant is commonly found all over NZ grows in gardens, arable land, waste open land, rough pasture and dry river beds
- small 1 cm wide solitary flowers, where the three upper petals are bright blue and the lower petal whitish or pale blue
- the dainty little flowers open on sunny days on thin stalks
- flowers all year round
- the seedpod is heart shaped (just visible in the photo above)
- leaves – pale to medium green grow in opposite pairs and are oval, short stalked, coarsely toothed or scolloped & hairy
- stems are round, flexible & can grow 70 cm long, roots can form at the nodes – the part of the stem out of which the leaves grow
- the stems lie on the ground with the tips curving upwards they can also grow over other plants.
Song of the Gypsyweed
Speedwell to travellers!
And speedwell is me.
My roots keep me from travelling, As you can see.
Yet all those who travel With their feet on the ground
Have noticed I’ve spread
The whole world round.
I’m too small to spy
From a car or a plane.
Yet, see me or not,
I’m here just the same.
So go on your travels.
And though they may say,
Don’t pass by the gifts Of the wise Gypsyweed.
- this plant has “remarkable medicinal powers out of proportion to its size”1
- used by gypsies as a blood purifier
- removes excess mucus, soothe internal tissues, treat coughs, asthma, pleurisy
- a tea made of speedwell is used to clear sinus congestion, help eyesight and ease sore eyes. I had a swollen top eyelid and sore eye – bathing it with speedwell healed it quickly
- goes to areas of tension, especially the neck and shoulder areas and helps relax the muscles
- externally to treat skin rashes, inflammation
- contains chlorophyll, minerals, vitamins, protein, antioxidants and is another plant easy to find in the garden to add to your smoothie or chop up finely and add to salads or make a pesto.
- ￼A handful of speedwell brought to the boil and steeped – drink as a tea or use cotton wool to dab one’s eyes as I did.
- Additional notes on Speedwell
There are several possibilities for why the plant has been well known for centuries in England. The term either refers to the flower’s speedy healing properties, its ability to spread rapidly in tilled soils, or its use in nosegays and tussie-mussies – fragrant bouquets of flowers which were often given as farewell gifts with the warm words, “Speedwell.”
from the Appalachian Independent by Mary Spalding1 Baïracli Levy, J., The Illustrated Herbal Handbook ,1977, Faber & Faber, London, p137